Any contact with Asia before the onset of ME/CFS?


Senior Member
Czech Republic, EU
I remember that the first member of our family, i.e., my elder brother who fell ill with ME/CFS was shortly before the onset of his illness in China and Mongolia. After a year or so my younger brother fell ill, then my mother and after another year or so me.


Senior Member
Not sure I understand your question, but in the documentary, "I Remember Me", there was mention that some people came back from China before one major outbreak.

Might be epidemiologically important?


work in progress
N. California
I got sick with very bad dysentery after eating at an INDONESIAN restaurant in Amsterdam back in 1975. It lasted 2 years... thanks, of course, to the doctors who diagnosed my severe ongoing diarrhea as "psychological." :mad: Don't it figure!

I finally saw an herbalist who gave me REALLY STRONG concoctions that helped heal what she said was amoebic dysentery. BUT.. two years later I got the CFS. I always speculated about how the gut issues influenced the demise of my immune system (along with the amalgam I got the summer before I fell ill with CFS). AND now I know!


Perth Australia/NC USA
I know this thread is about east Asia but, for what it's worth, I spent a lot of my childhood in west Africa and Pakistan. Always wondered if I got something there. Had all the bugs, malaria, parasites etc. but was relatively healthy until early twenties. Nothing noteworthy revealed in testing in the USA.
Yes! I am not certain of when I got sick, because I was so young, and of course I have had memory and brain fog problems for a long time. But I have a gut feeling that it was after a vacation to south east Asia. On this vacation, I was bitten many, many times by mosquitoes and developed a fever. And I say there's a decent chance at least one bite was not a mosquito. Before my visit there, I always had an "allergy" to mosquitos and afterwards, my body continued to react strongly to a bite. Of course, along with multiple chemical sensitivities.

[However, there's a chance that had nothing to do with my onset, maybe it was after the MMR vaccination or around this time from something else, I am getting myself tested for Lyme. Even though that's the start of my problems, I think they were later compounded by catching some additional viruses or infections that don't go away with a week long course of antibiotics. Obviously it seems like someone who was already ill would catch more bad stuff when they visited other countries. I visited Mexico, Jamaica, etc.]


Moderation Resource Albuquerque
I've spent about two years in India--split up into 7 visits over a period of about 15 years. I got ill on every trip but it would be difficult for me to specifically tie it to the onset of ME/CFS. I also lived in Africa for 15 years--so lots of opportunities to collect bugs, parasites & toxins. And along with all this travel comes a wheelbarrow full of vaccinations!:eek:

Perhaps a poll should be started, so the people who did NOT have any travel outside US/Canada can chime in, so we can see how high or low? One option would be zero outside US/Can, one would be yes to Asia, one would be not Asia but yes to Africa or India... that kind of thing... (have brain fog now.)



sudden onset CFS after severe flu january 2001.

about 1 year *after* moving to U.S. (from Europe).

last time in Asia (Korea and China) 1988.
Interesting. Friend of mine was telling me about how moving across the country (such as CA to NY) made her get a big flare up of allergies. It eventually went away but took years. So, it could be unrelated to WHERE and mostly that you are around any unfamiliar bacteria or viruses? Especially with bug bites, or unsanitary water, or anything more obvious. Or for a longer amount of time so that you get exposed over time.


Senior Member
Czech Republic, EU
I hate the conspiracy theories,

but consider this: A widespread ME/CFS would be an absolutely perfect result of a biological or chemical weapon. It is true that, say, nerve agents can be as devastating as nuclear weapons but the victims of such an assault are almost instantly dead and so they don't pose any burden for the state economy. I remember having read some such analysis of a biological weapon causing some form of severe arthritis but not killing the victims.


Senior Member
Lots of time in Asia but only long AFTER I got sick. Ironically, I often felt best in Asia and Africa.


Senior Member
I lived in Thailand for 2 years in the 70's and it was the best time of my life for many reasons. While there, I also travelled to 6-7 nearby countries. I got sick about 10 years later in San Jose CA and don't feel my time in Thailand/Asia had anything to do with it.

As for conspiracy theories, I still wonder why I and a lot of other people in San Jose had the most horrible "flu" I have ever experienced, and it was in the SUMMER of 1982. I'm a person who, even when feeling nauseous, almost never vomits. But in the summer of '82 I had the dry heaves for several days and was vomiting up small amounts of blood due to the violence of the heaving, like my body wanted to turn itself inside out, like seizures. Never had that before and never since. I never totally recovered and it's been a downhill slide for the most part, since then. If the military or the government did accidentally, or purposefully, release a bioengineered retrovirus, that might account for the CDCs attempts to squelch all real scientific information about this illness, and to trivialize researchers and studies showing an organic cause. I have a hard time believing that personal bias, incompetence and arrogance account for the anti-hard science attitude coming out of CDC regards CFS for nearly 30 years.


London, UK
Yes, absolutely. I got sick after getting glandular fever when I was 17 but had almost completely recovered. This was almost 10 years ago. 2 years ago I went to Japan healthy. I came down with a food-poisoning type thing in Japan, but it was a weird kind of food poisoning - I wasn't sick that much but felt nauseous and TOTALLY WIPED OUT for a week, couldn't move at my hotel. Lucky to make it home, thought I was going to have to go to hospital in Japan. At home I wasn't feeling well but it was a couple of weeks before all the horrible symptoms started - felt like a vibration inside my spine, electric shocks in my spine, tinnitus, seizures, blurred vision, extreme sensitivity to light and sound. This went on and on and I was severely ill for a year and a half - initially I got better gradually but then gradually was getting worse until I got a specialist, Dr Myhill. She has found a substance in my blood called trichlorohenol that has apparently binded to parts of my mitochondria and stuck onto my DNA according to some tests I just had done. It's an illegal environmental pollutant - a banned pesticide. My explanation is that my relapse was brought about by eating contaminated food in Japan as I had some dodgy seafood in Osaka and it may have come from contaminated water - that seems to me to be what happened. There are a few other weird chemicals they found but that was the main one, in quite a big amount. I used to eat a lot of fish and seafood and I have now stopped because you never really know where it's from. According to Myhill many of her patients have been found to have toxic chemicals binded to elements of their mitochondria - I do think there is an issue about food safety. China seems quite bad at regulating this! Anyway I think I became ill because I ate contaminated (with illegal pesticides, which can stay in rivers, etc for a long time and bioaccumulate up the food chain) fish in Japan.
Mediterranean , middle east - chronic brucellosis

i m reading about " chronic brucellosis " these days , it is indistinguishable from chronic fatigue syndrome by its symptoms .. it s said to be eradicated from north America and most Europe long ago but still persist in Mediterranean and some parts of Asia , so i thought i should post this .. the paper i pasted below doesnt concentrate on the presentation of the illness but how it can get chronic and undetached by standard screening methods .. u can google for the detailed symptoms of it , i ll post when i find anything brief too ..
happy new year to everyone ..

Alice C. Evans
From the Division of Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Health, Washington, D. C.

In this paper emphasis is laid on the diagnosis of the chronic disease because the same difficulties which attend the diagnosis of the acute are magnified in the chronic disease.

In the current study, we evaluated the usefulness of Q-PCR in the diagnosis and follow-up of chronic brucellosis patients. We studied a cohort of 35 subjects with a history of brucellosis diagnosed between 2 and 33 years previously. The most significant characteristic of infection was the long-term persistence of B. melitensis DNA in nonfocal-disease patients complaining of nonspecific symptoms undiagnosable by classical methods. This observation is very important insofar as it offers hope to a not insignificant group of patients who wander from physician to physician, remaining undiagnosed even though their symptoms (weakness, easy fatigability, anxiety, nervousness, and vague aches) persist. In such situations, Q-PCR could help physicians to diagnose chronic infection. Since other intracellular bacteria, such as Mycoplasma spp., have been linked to a number of syndromes of as yet unknown etiology, which include fibromyalgia, CFS, and sarcoidosis (4, 6, 14), it will be of interest to investigate the potential role of Brucella sp. infection in such syndromes.
With respect to the specificity of Q-PCR, we did not detect bacterial DNA in either whole-blood or serum samples from healthy donors who had no history of brucellosis. However, we were able to detect and measure levels of B. melitensis DNA in asymptomatic subjects with a history of brucellosis, albeit in a smaller proportion of patients than that in the group of symptomatic chronic patients. The clinical significance of the persistence of bacterial DNA in asymptomatic patients for long periods after antibiotic treatment is still unclear. We do not know whether this indicates that these patients could develop symptoms of brucellosis in the future. The persistence of bacterial DNA after the completion of antimicrobial treatment has also been reported for patients with other infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, leptospirosis, and Lyme disease (8, 11, 18, 23, 25). Asymptomatic former brucellosis patients with bacterial DNA have not been adequately described in the literature, and it seems appropriate to perform follow-up studies of these patients, who probably require special vigilance in the posttreatment phase.

The detection of bacterial DNA despite negative blood cultures in symptomatic patients without focal complications suggests that they might remain infected with nondividing but nonetheless live, infectious bacteria that persist in a latent form under the control of the host's immune system. Some authors (8, 11, 18) have suggested that DNA from dead microbes is rapidly cleared from the blood, presumably by nucleolytic activity present in tissues and body fluids. In an experimental model, DNA from heat-killed Borrelia burgdorferi was injected into the skin of an uninfected dog. PCR analysis detected B. burgdorferi DNA for a maximum of 3 weeks after injection, implying that during natural, acute infection, the DNA of killed microorganisms is removed quickly and completely within a few days (23). These findings could corroborate our theory that the B. melitensis DNA detected at least 2 years following initial brucellosis infection is derived from live bacteria with infectious, symptom-causing potential.

Since we were able to detect B. melitensis DNA after therapy in 80% of patients, it seems that the duration, dose, and combination of current antibiotic treatments are not effective in eradicating the bacteria. It is not clear whether therapy of longer duration or new treatments with different combinations of antibiotics would result in better outcomes. Prolonged evaluation of patients after antibiotic treatment is needed in order to determine whether the decrease in the bacterial DNA load after treatment is transient or definitive, resulting in total eradication of the bacteria.

With respect to the intermittent detection of bacterial DNA, it seems possible that in chronic brucellosis patients, the concentrations of B. melitensis DNA in body fluids, such as blood or serum, may be transient or too low to allow consistent detection. Furthermore, it has been reported that nucleic acids are probably released from bacteria into the circulation as breakdown products (26), which might hinder amplification by PCR. Thus, a negative result in a Q-PCR assay may not exclude the disease. Some authors have suggested testing several replicates of the purified DNA from clinical specimens in parallel to increase the probability of a positive result (1). However, in tissue samples where bacteria are concentrated, such as the bone marrow or SF from focal-disease patients, it was easier to detect B. melitensis DNA, as seen in the sample of SF from the young man with right-knee pain and in the bone marrow of a woman with spondylitis (16).

In summary, we found that the proportion of individuals with B. melitensis DNA was significantly higher for symptomatic nonfocal-disease patients than for asymptomatic subjects. Therefore, Q-PCR appears to be a useful method for identifying chronic brucellosis patients, especially those symptomatic nonfocal-disease patients for whom the classical methods of diagnosis fail.
this is from 1954

F E W , IF ANY, infectious diseases have
been the subject of so much controversy and
misunderstanding as has chronic low-grade
brucellosis. Indeed, the very existence of such
a clinical entity still is disputed by some clinicians,
public health, and laboratory workers.
Anything more than a mere suspicion in the
way of a clinical diagnosis is precluded by the
protean symptoms which may be present and
the consequent resemblance to a host of other
illnesses, including the psychoneuroses. The
standard diagnostic laboratory aids seldom give
clear-cut evidence on which the diagnosis may
be either established or ruled out. The only
definitive laboratory test is the isolation of the
organism, which only rarely is possible in the
absence of acute exacerbation of the chronic

It is important to define clearly what is
meant by "chronic, low-grade brucellosis,"
since the literature contains much confusing
material which may leave the impression that
the agglutination reaction, culture alone, or
both are prerequisite diagnostic criteria. Some
workers consider brucellosis to be "chronic" if
the illness is of more than three months' duration,
regardless of the severity of the illness or
degree of fever at the time of observation.
Others avoid discussion of the low-grade
chronic illness altogether, perhaps because it
is so time-consuming a study, especially under
hospital conditions. In some reports the term
"chronic" has been used to designate current
illness with marked pyrexia, prostration and
the like, in a patient with a history of previous
illness of long duration; in such cases it seems
more appropriate to speak of an "acute exacerbation
of chronic brucellosis." In the present
discussion the term "chronic" is intended
to mean low-grade, slow-going, not acute, of
months' to years' duration, attended by lowgrade
or no febrile reaction, preceding or
following acute illness, or existing as a distinct
clinical entity with no history of acute
illness. That such an "indolent," but nonetheless
active, form of brucellosis does exist has
been amply shown.5' 8> " 19' 20
Fatigue and weakness of variable degree
are common to almost all cases of chronic brucellosis,
but a tremendous range of other subjective
symptoms, in any degree of severity
and in any combination, may occur with few
if any detectable physical findings to account
for them. As in the neurotic patient, there is
hardly a subjective symptom that may not be
attributable to brucellosis. To determine how
these symptoms are shaded by the personality
of the patient is impossible without study of
the patient as a whole
Person-to-person transmission of Brucella melitensis

Human brucellosis is primarily an occupational hazard in the USA; in the Middle East and Africa ingestion of contaminated dairy products is an important route of infection. Whether human beings can become infected via person-to-person spread is uncertain. During an investigation of a commonsource, laboratory-associated outbreak due to Brucella melitensis, biotype 3, the wife of a microbiologist with serologically proven brucellosis became infected. Her blood isolate was indistinguishable from the epidemic strain. In the absence of other risk factors, we suggest that sexual intercourse is a possible means of transmission.

PMID: 1670649 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


Senior Member
I got sick right after I ate some sushi and raw seaweed salad. In the US, but Asian food. I always wondered if it was contaminated with something.



The onset of my illness was in April 2001 while living in China. The post by Dreambirdie is interesting to me as I, too, had a bad case of dysentery about a year and a half before I got "the flu" - you all know it... the onset of the debilitating, life altering chronic fatigue that will affect the rest of your lives! While in my 9th year of my illness now, and while I have made significant progress towards wellness, I'm convinced that a person doesn't get this virus, or any virus, unless you have a weakened immune system. It is a possibility that the dysentery, which took 6 months to recover from, weakened my body so that i picked up this virus.